Book Review : London – A travel guide through time

I wonder what future historians in years to come will look back and say about London in the 21st century. Will the landscape of London have fundamentally changed? Will Londoners habits and behaviours be hugely different? Will the way we work or the way we play be unrecognisable.

I suppose only time will tell.

However when you look at how London has changed over the course of the last millennia it’s interesting both how much has changed and how much is interestingly similar. This weeks book explores those changes…

London – A travel guide through time (23)

by Dr Matthew Green

This book takes you on a journey.

A journey restricted to the confines of our fine capital (although the boundaries of London are significantly larger than they once were) but a voyage which stretches across the horizon of time.

Now I’ve lived around this esteemed city all my life however I never seem to stop learning more about London. However reading “London – A travel guide through time” has expanded this knowledge in a bunch of ways.

First there’s plenty of interesting stuff in this book.

From the origin of the phrase “Steal my thunder” to the birthplace of the daily news and the multi tiered wedding cake all the way through to how the ‘lock in’ meant something slightly different in plague ridden London.

Secondly the book isn’t afraid to explore the darker and, erm, less salubrious sides of historical London.

The book talks about London’s history not only with Plague but explores it’s history with Pornography and Prostitution. It also explores how historically entertainment included what would be seen today as extreme cruelty to animals, the disabled and the mentally ill.

This is what makes this book so fascinating.

When you read much of “London – A travel guide through time” it’s interesting how our fellow Londoners who although similar to us in many many ways could find animal baiting entertaining, or visiting Bedlam (or the Elephant man) part of a great night out.

I enjoyed this book.

Matthew Green has done a fantastic job in taking elements of the story of London and taking you into the world of Medieval, Shakespearean, Blitz ridden, Victorian and Georgian London. The only minor criticism I have about this book is that whilst most of the book zips along at place there are some parts of some chapters which are ‘fact heavy’ and the narrative structure seems lost.

However regardless of this minor criticism I’d still highly recommend reading “London – A travel guide through time”…especially if you want to understand more about how our capital city has changed over the years.


You can purchase your copy of “London – A travel guide through time” here

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